Smooth Sumac

Rhus glabra

Family: Anacardiaceae (an-a-kard-ee-AY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Rhus (roos) (Info)
Species: glabra (GLAY-bruh) (Info)





Foliage Color:

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Characteristics:

This plant is attractive to bees, butterflies and/or birds

Water Requirements:

Drought-tolerant; suitable for xeriscaping

Where to Grow:

Unknown - Tell us


4-6 ft. (1.2-1.8 m)

6-8 ft. (1.8-2.4 m)

8-10 ft. (2.4-3 m)

10-12 ft. (3-3.6 m)

12-15 ft. (3.6-4.7 m)

15-20 ft. (4.7-6 m)


6-8 ft. (1.8-2.4 m)

8-10 ft. (2.4-3 m)

10-12 ft. (3-3.6 m)

12-15 ft. (3.6-4.7 m)


USDA Zone 2a: to -45.5 C (-50 F)

USDA Zone 2b: to -42.7 C (-45 F)

USDA Zone 3a: to -39.9 C (-40 F)

USDA Zone 3b: to -37.2 C (-35 F)

USDA Zone 4a: to -34.4 C (-30 F)

USDA Zone 4b: to -31.6 C (-25 F)

USDA Zone 5a: to -28.8 C (-20 F)

USDA Zone 5b: to -26.1 C (-15 F)

USDA Zone 6a: to -23.3 C (-10 F)

USDA Zone 6b: to -20.5 C (-5 F)

USDA Zone 7a: to -17.7 C (0 F)

USDA Zone 7b: to -14.9 C (5 F)

USDA Zone 8a: to -12.2 C (10 F)

USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 C (15 F)

USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 C (20 F)

USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 C (25 F)

Sun Exposure:

Sun to Partial Shade

Light Shade

Partial to Full Shade



Bloom Color:

Pale Yellow

Chartreuse (Yellow-Green)

Pale Green

Bloom Time:

Mid Summer


Grown for foliage


Good Fall Color

Other details:

May be a noxious weed or invasive

Soil pH requirements:

6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)

6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)

Patent Information:


Propagation Methods:

From seed; direct sow outdoors in fall

From seed; stratify if sowing indoors

Seed Collecting:

Properly cleaned, seed can be successfully stored


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Cullman, Alabama

Eclectic, Alabama

Holly Pond, Alabama

Saraland, Alabama

Thomaston, Alabama

Vincent, Alabama

Phoenix, Arizona

Peyton, Colorado

East Canaan, Connecticut

Tampa, Florida

Buford, Georgia

Batavia, Illinois

Indianapolis, Indiana

Plainfield, Indiana

Valparaiso, Indiana

Iowa City, Iowa

Benton, Kentucky

Clermont, Kentucky

Frankfort, Kentucky

Georgetown, Kentucky

Lexington, Kentucky

Louisville, Kentucky

Nicholasville, Kentucky

Versailles, Kentucky

Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Slaughter, Louisiana

Durand, Michigan

Stephenson, Michigan

Saint Paul, Minnesota

Cole Camp, Missouri

Las Vegas, Nevada

Cary, North Carolina

Raleigh, North Carolina

Belfield, North Dakota

Fargo, North Dakota

Byesville, Ohio

Canton, Ohio

Glouster, Ohio

Lakewood, Ohio

Edmond, Oklahoma

Allentown, Pennsylvania

Downingtown, Pennsylvania

Laurens, South Carolina

Dayton, Tennessee

Delano, Tennessee

Arlington, Texas

Conroe, Texas

Fort Worth, Texas

Royse City, Texas

San Antonio, Texas

Appleton, Wisconsin

show all

Gardeners' Notes:


On May 26, 2015, Rickwebb from Downingtown, PA wrote:

It is a wonderful native shrub in eastern NA. The female plants bear red fruit for birds and other wildlife and it gets a wonderful red fall color like its big sister of Staghorn Sumac that is very hairy instead of hairless. The birds did plant a few in my backyard in my woody plant borders and I left a few there. It is one of the native shrubs that is doing alright after all the big invasion from Eurasian shrubs as Common Buckthorn, Amur Honeysuckle, Autumnolive, Multiflora Rose and some others that are not eaten by deer as sumac are not.


On Oct 26, 2014, wildbarrett from Lakewood, OH wrote:

This is my very most favorite shrubby tree, beautifully primeval, with a wild, almost tropical appeal. So very, very lovely! Besides the appeal for birds, etc, this plant provides wonderful cover for smaller wildlife, sheltering with filtered sun on searing hot days, and colonies are a great hide from hawks, etc., just for starters!! Serious fun to play under, or walk through, as well, like a special wonderland!
They are just astonishingly beautiful in groupings, covering hillsides and what might otherwise be awkward sightings.
They grow in the wild very near me, at the tops of cliffs, and down hillsides...and I must leave it to those special areas for enjoyment!!~I made the mistake of allowing a seedling to grow in the back of my suburban yard, yes, they truly do colonize... read more


On Jul 10, 2012, Zeffie from North River, ND wrote:

just FYI it's Staghorn Sumac or Rhus typhina that you are able to make a kind of lemonade out of. The alkaloid content of Smoothe is different, bitter and not very good for you! That being said, it won't get eaten by rabbits or deer, yay! I mean what else are you going to grow on the prairie in pure clay or rocky soil? And yes, this is indeed native to all 48 lower states, obviously not to EVERY corner of the state, for example you wont find it in the mojave desert; but it does have an impressive range. Best for naturalizing areas, or in a 'wild' garden where it can form an attractive multi trunked shrub/tree. or in a conventional garden in impossible conditions.


On Jul 12, 2011, SuburbanNinja80 from Plainfield, IN (Zone 6a) wrote:

I Notice that people call this invade Peoples yards... I have yet to see it. I saw the Chinese Sumac does those. Then again the only Three Smooth sumac have been Behaving in peoples yards.


On Sep 10, 2010, Vacula333 from Allentown, PA wrote:

I have a small grove of these growing in my back yard and invasive or not, they are still an American native. I prefer this over the Tree of heaven, which is also growing in my yard and is about 25 years old! I have also noticed that the wild grape vine that we have growing on our property will NOT grow on the Sumac, but will kill the tree of heaven, I have not yet figured out how it does this. I have found that there are certain trees that the Grape vine stays away from, and smooth sumac is one of them. I would love to hear your observations on this.


On Jul 5, 2009, jqpublic from Cary, NC (Zone 7b) wrote:

This is currently growing on a dry slope where nothing else will grow in our yard. They are on my side yard where we removed numerous lumbering oaks that were too close to the house.


On Nov 4, 2007, creekwalker from Benton County, MO (Zone 5a) wrote:

We have lots of this in Missouri and I had always heard you could make a drink from the ripe berries, so I tried it. It wasn't all that great and a few minutes after drinking it, I almost passed out. I'm not sure whether it was due to the drink or not, but I would try this with caution. I was positive that I had sumac berries too.

All Sumac with red berries are said to be safe but the ones with white berries are the poison ones.


On Jun 25, 2007, frostweed from Josephine, Arlington, TX (Zone 8a) wrote:

Smooth Sumac Rhus glabra, is Native to Texas and other States.


On May 22, 2005, melody from Benton, KY (Zone 7a) wrote:

This is the only shrub or tree species that is native to all 48 contiguous states, which attests to it's ability to adapt to a wide variety of conditions and climates.

It is the most common sumac and sometimes in good conditions will form a small tree with a flat, open crown.

As stated above, it spreads by runners and can form large colonies without containment, but I enjoy seeing the clumps along the roadways in the fall. They are usually the first color to be seen in these parts and I love the bright red.


On Dec 16, 2004, BotanyDave from Norman, OK (Zone 7a) wrote:

Another "fun" plant for which I got into trouble for transplanting into the backyard. The fall foliage is very nice. The "berries" (drupes) can be made into a drink a bit like Koolaid. Sadly the plant is colonial, so if you plant it, put a barrier in the ground or be ready for a forest.
Transplanting is best done when the plant's gone dormant (note the fine, silvery membrane covering the stems)- in the middle of winter: go dig up a wild one. The roots don't go too far down, but move sideways... just chop off the next plant down.
Be warned- the sap is really sticky, and your hands will be a bit mucky if you mess with the plant. A Very FEW people seem to be allergic to this plant on contact- you will notice if you are.